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Climate | Energy

Climate change brought about by the sharp rise in greenhouse gas emissions since the beginning of the industrial era is a global challenge that the community of nations is hoping can be mastered via an effective international climate protection treaty that is slated to take effect in 2020. The top priority in this regard is greenhouse gas emission reductions. The goal of German energy policy is to reduce such emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020 and by 80 to 95 percent by 2050, relative to 1990 levels. The measures in this regard aim to increase the use of renewable energy and improve energy efficiency.

If we are to have any hope of reducing greenhouse gases, we will need to substantially roll back energy use, improve energy efficiency and at the same time ramp up renewable energy production and use. To leverage this potential, we need to institute efficiency measures and optimize renewable energy technologies. But to do this, it is crucial that economic, infrastructure and political obstacles be overcome.

What is the key to the success of climate protection measures? Timely, sustainable infrastructure investments worldwide that will create conditions early on and in a timely manner that will be conducive to adherence to the two degree ceiling. Hence transformation of our economic systems and their underlying socioeconomic structures (energy systems, urbanization and land use) will need to begin at the national level, and then continue based on an across the board sustainable-development paradigm on the global level. As a society, we need to be very clear about the fact that climate protection cannot and will not be achieved through technical solutions alone, and will instead necessitate fundamental transformation of our lifestyles, "mentalités", and values.

In the interest of moving toward achieving these goals, in 2010 the German government adopted an ambitious energy infrastructure transformation program that sets a long term strategy for German energy and climate policy. We at the UBA are supporting this process through our own investigations of long term scenarios aimed at energy efficiency, the use of renewable energy, and energy-infrastructure transformation monitoring. To this end, we are implementing instruments such as carbon trading, the guarantee of origin register, and the "Blauer Engel" seal of environmental quality.

Greenhouse gas-neutral and resource-efficient by 2050

in einer futuristisch anmutenden Szenerie mit blauem Licht stehen Solarpanels auf einer Wasserfläche, im Hintergrund Windkraftanlagen und Strommasten

In its new RESCUE study, the German Environment Agency (UBA) analyzes how to achieve greenhouse gas neutrality and reduce raw material consumption by 70 percent by the year 2050. The RESCUE study describes six scenarios of possible transformation pathways for which details must be fleshed out. The scenarios are meant to help the federal government achieve the agreed goal of greenhouse gas neutrali read more

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Rebound effects

Efficiency increase oftentimes reduces product or service costs, which can in turn ramp up consumption (due to reduced prices), thus partly canceling out the original savings. This is known as the rebound effect. read more

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Plenty of sun and wind sets electricity records in Germany

Photovoltaikanlage auf dem Dach des Umweltbundesamtes in Dessau-Roßlau

In the first half of 2019 electricity produced from renewable energies made notable gains over the same period in the previous year. During the first six months of the year production was around 129 billion kilowatt hours, about 10 percent more than the same period in 2018 (+ 12 billion kWh). But the rate of new build of wind energy turbines has slowed in 2019. read more

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Emissions trading 2018: German installations cut emissions by 3.5 per cent

Ein Kraftwerk und Stromleitungen.

The 2018 emissions of the roughly 1,870 stationary installations in Germany recorded in the European Emissions Trading System (EU-ETS) amounted to around 422 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2eq). This is a 3.5-percent decrease compared to the previous year. The decline in emissions is chiefly due to lower emissions in the energy industry. read more

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The Umweltbundesamt

For our environment